An Antares rocket exploded shortly after takeoff Tuesday night off the coast of Virginia.

Monday's Antares rocket launch was supposed to mark Orbital Sciences' third official cargo mission to the International Space Station for NASA under a $1.9 billion contract, which called for a total of eight delivery missions. The mission, called Orb-3, was attempting to launch a robotic Cygnus spacecraft - also built by Orbital - that was filled with 5,000 lbs. of food, water, experiments and other gear for the astronauts currently living aboard the space station.

Just after 6:22pm, as the rocket was attempting to launch, a catastrophic failure occurred, resulting in the loss of the rocket and its payload.

NASA officials held a press conference shortly after the event.

NASATV